Friday, December 12, 2014

Ukraine Plane Crash


Four children were engaged in the timeless "My Dad" argument.

Tim said, "My dad works for the largest computer company in the world, and he travels everywhere."

Kip replied, "Well, my father owns a shipping business with hundreds of boats, and even airplanes. I get to ride on boats and planes whenever I want."

Darryl chipped in, "My father works for the government, and he even gets to talk to the president sometimes. We have security men at our house all the time."

Stanley stood quietly for a moment, because his father had died not long before. Finally, he said, "My dad is in Heaven, and gets to see God every day."

The other boys tried to think of something to say that could top that, but nothing came to mind.

Nothing can top the Lord our God! He is above all else. Nothing compares to Him. Therefore, nothing else in this world is more worthy of our worship and devotion. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. His glory endures forever.

In closing.....

(I read about Dr. David Jeremiah quoting about a real life story that happened recently:)

   Last February, John Allen, a British lawyer living in Holland, smiled across the supper table at his wife and three sons, ages eight to fourteen. Someone snapped a picture. They were happy. A family vacation to Indonesia was in the works.

Five months later the five Allens boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, but somewhere over Ukraine the plane was blown out of the sky. The whole family perished in an instant, along with their fellow passengers.

We can’t comprehend the evil and calamity in the world. Such tragedies deeply upset and depress us, but they also represent a poignant reminder. Take every opportunity to cherish your loved ones. If you’re peeved with a family member, forgive them. If you’ve neglected them, give them a call. If you’ve rebelled against your dad or mom, go home with the humble attitude of a repentant prodigal. If you’ve been tense with your kids, give them an extra hug. If you live far away, work harder to stay in touch. Whatever it takes, take care of your family as well as you can. It’s at the core of God’s plan and provision for the world.

Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sincere. Uncertain. Afraid.


One-word descriptions of my condition? Disillusioned. Stretched. Learning. Lonely. Determined. Sincere. Uncertain. Afraid.

But how can we live that pure life when our sin nature continues to tempt us so strongly? Our struggle is even harder because of the sinful world that surrounds us and presses in on us every time we turn on the TV or the radio. Even going to work, school or sport presents struggles if the people we’re with are worldly.

God will often call us to face difficulties because of our obedience to Him. But it’s in those times that we must remain steadfast in our faithfulness and, like Joseph, trust God to bring us through it. Face any hardship with faith and trust God!

From time to time I have seen people pour out their heart to the Pastor because their sins had been discovered and they were in serious trouble. They wept bitterly because they had devastated their marriage or ruined their reputation.

     But later someone would tell me they were back in the same situation.  They had not learned from their experience, and seemed determined to bring even more chaos into their lives.

     What was the problem?  The problem was lack of repentance.  Their tears were tears of self-pity---but not of repentance.  True repentance is a turning from sin---a conscious, deliberate decision to leave sin behind---and a conscious turning to God, with a commitment to follow His will.

He knows how we function, and He knows the pitfalls and dangers we face.  If He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t try to guide us in the right path.  But He does!  As Billy Graham says  we can be just as certain and just as worry-free about God's love and protection.  What is the evidence?  It is the Cross, where God fully expressed His love for us.  The Bible says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all---how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).  His love is certain.  He has never gone back on a single promise, and He never will. -

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wisdom of the World



“I will . . . lie down in peace . . . for you alone . . . make me dwell in safety” – Psalm 4:8

 Billy Graham says, by any measure drug and alcohol dependence has become one of our greatest social problems.  The issue isn't just illegal drugs; many depend on alcohol or over-the-counter or prescription drugs just to face each day or to get to sleep at night. We are not the masters of our fate. 

  We think we control our lives---but we don't.  In an instant life can radically change---a car accident, a heart attack, a pink slip, a child's raging fever.  Frustrated researchers conquer one deadly virus, only to discover one even more lethal.

I am not a doctor, of course, and I fully realize some drugs have a legitimate place under careful medical supervision.  But in my experience far too many people turn first to drugs or alcohol instead of to God.  Rather than face their problems and deal with them (with God’s help), they use drugs or alcohol to escape.

Opportunities never look as good coming as they do going. And they wait for no one, so you need to be attentive and grab them. They come in many forms, and they can come from any direction. But one thing's for certain: they can be seen and seized only in the present. Whatever has happened in your life, has happened. And since you can't undo it no matter how hard you try, wipe the slate clean and go on to what's next. We all make mistakes.

Lastly,

When it comes to choosing friends,  Author  Dr. Charles Townsend says look for: (1) People who influence you to be the person God intended. 'As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other' (Proverbs 27:17 CEV). Relationships are the tools God uses to do this. When you're with somebody, ask yourself, 'Do I like who I am when I'm around this person? Am I more open, loving and honest? Or do I not like what I see in myself?' Choose people who make you a better person. (2) People who provide grace for the energy drain. When you're empty you need to be refuelled physically, spiritually and relationally. So surround yourself with friends who will listen, encourage and be there for you. (3) People who let you be real. 'A friend loves at all times' (Proverbs 17:17 NKJV). The best relationships are those where you know you're loved, you're free to be yourself, you don't have to put on an act and you can be honest about the difficult aspects of life. There's comfort and normality in friendships where you can be authentic. (4) People who help you grow in faith. You need friends who encourage you to pray, read the Bible and help you to see the 'big picture' concerning what's important in your life.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Heroes



You are no stranger to trials. The lab report came back malignant. The school called, demanding that you pick up your child who has just been expelled. Your husband informed you that he no longer wants to be married to you. Your boss called you into his office to let you know that you are being fired. Financial disaster seems certain while dependable friends seem to vanish. Yes, storms will come, and bad things will happen – even to fully devoted followers of God.

No one would call George Smith a coward. Smith was a daring jet test pilot in the 1950's when the sound barrier was first being broken. He could face anything - until he had to bail out of a jet going 805 miles per hour. Smith survived, but was hospitalized for weeks. Smith shared his fear of ever flying again with one of the nurses who had become a friend. The nurse smiled and said, “I have an antidote to fear. It is courage. To have courage is to know the worst, and to discover that, in God's economy, the very worst can't really hurt you." Exactly!

God's Heroes    

                                Few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
—1 Corinthians 1:26–27

  I liked what Greg Laurie talks about heroes.

 In many ways, we have lost the meaning of the word hero. We throw it around so casually. If you can put a ball through a hoop, you're a sports hero. If you can play eight chords on a guitar, you're a rock and roll hero. If you can pretend to be something you're not, you're a Hollywood hero. We have a strange concept as to who our heroes really are.

I remember watching a well-known journalist interview an actor about his recent movie, which featured a politically troubled region of the world. When the journalist asked the celebrity what he thought should be done about the political situation there, the actor responded, "Who cares what I think?" and went on to point out that he was just an actor. All too often, we mistakenly think actors really are the people they portray. We think they are heroes when, in fact, they're just people like you and me.

A hero is someone who does something sacrificial, something courageous. There are heroes today, of course. We saw many of them in action on 9/11 and in the days that followed. But often, today's heroes are operating behind the scenes, and we never know about them.

As we look at heroes of the faith, those in Scripture and in contemporary history whom God put His hand on, one thing stands out: it seems that God has always gone out of His way to find individuals who did not necessarily look like heroes. And that is precisely the point. God isn't looking for a strong man or woman per se. Rather, He's looking for someone who will walk in His strength. (1)


(1) Today's devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, November 7, 2014

A lot can happen over a Cup of Coffee











Let’s create a culture of kindness where acts of generosity and compassion permeate our days. These small acts of kindness are the force that will change the world. How might you contribute to that change in your “world” today?

While most people walk through life asking how they can be blessed, the question we ought to be asking is, “How can I be a blessing to others?” Here’s why: When we bless others, it means that we have so much blessing in our own lives that we can share with others; we can lend and not borrow.

When we bless others, we receive a joy that ironically is even greater than when we are the recipients of blessings from others. Most significantly, when we bless others, we please God, and God blesses us even more in return. We should start every day asking how we might be a blessing today.


Explaining what it means to be a social entrepreneur, Kosaraju said,“Being a social entrepreneur means leveraging business principles and sensibilities to create solutions that combat social issues.”

Advertisers bank on the idea that people really think this is as good as it gets. Modern man engages in ceaseless activity and amusement to distract himself from considering what comes next.  Ethical living – and leading – takes courage and conviction. It means doing the right thing, even when the right thing isn't popular or easy. But when you make decisions based on your core values, then you tell the world that you can't be bought – and you lead your team by example.

Once you identify your company's core values as well as your own, you can start to set the tone with your team and your organization. Actions always speak louder than words, so make sure you do as you would wish others to do.

It's what you do, not what you say, that demonstrates to your team what you care about. So, if your company values honesty above all else, then make sure you demonstrate that by being honest with everyone around you.

"I am passionate about the possibilities that occur when individuals see the world around them differently, and believe they can actually make a difference," he added.

"A lot of people have great vision and ideas but are held back by fear of failure and other people’s opinions. You have to inoculate yourself against those internal and external voices. You have to arrive at a place where you think you have a limited time to make your mark on this world".

Recently I came across three short stories about being a blessing to others. In the first story, a woman recalled finding an anonymous note on her front door that said, “Don’t worry; you were created awesome, not perfect.” This woman was going through a hard time, and these words were just what she needed. Years later, she “paid it forward” by placing encouraging notes on other people’s doors.

In the second story, a man was in the hospital with his sick wife when the person in front of him in line at the cafeteria paid for his meal. When he asked the woman why she did that the woman responded that she wanted to make his first day easier. It gave him the boost he needed to get through the day.

In the third story, a woman decided to anonymously send her new neighbors a pizza lunch wishing them a nice day.

What struck me about all three stories was how easy it is to be a blessing – and also how rewarding it is.

How might you be a blessing to others today? What small act of kindness can brighten someone’s day? When you focus on blessing others, God will concentrate on blessing you.


Just a small thought...

-1 Billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water

-Right now, almost 1 billion people on this earth do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.

 -The water they do have comes from unprotected sources, and often carries bacteria and diseases such as E. coli, Cholera, and Hepatitis A.

-63 Children die in Uganda each day from lack of clean water

-The small bodies of many children aren’t prepared to deal with the various bacteria, parasites, and diseases in unclean water. Many children die from diarrhea and dehydration.

A Four mile walk for water

In many countries, including Uganda, it is the job of young girls and women to collect water for their families. This often times means walking 4 miles or more to the nearest water source, and returning with a 40lb jerrycan full of water. And not even clean water. In addition to missing school, young girls and women often face the risk of assault while collecting water.


Water is hope

Clean water gives a village hope. Young girls are able to attend school instead of spending hours collecting water. Young boys and girls are no longer too sick or weak to attend school. A better education leads to an opportunity to earn a better living. Clean water is the first step to education, to the economy, and to ending poverty. Clean water is hope.

SUPPORT CLEAN WATER WITH YOUR COFFEE 

Three Avocados is a non-profit organization that was founded in February of 2010 as a creative solution to ending the global water crisis and educating children, starting with Uganda. 100% of our net proceeds provide clean water in Uganda and education in Nicaragua, with hopes to expand in the future. We aim to provide coffee lovers with a product that enables them to make a 100% socially responsible choice when purchasing coffee.

How Much of My Purchase Provides Clean Water

The simple answer is that anywhere between $0.50 and $3.00 per bag provides clean water. This amount is dependent upon the retail channel the coffee is purchased through. Purchases made online through our web site provide the most support for clean water.

You too can  make a difference.

Please visit:

http://www.threeavocados.org

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, October 31, 2014

Where our restless Hearts will be


“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God" - Hebrews 4:5''

  Billy Graham says, we are the most entertained generation in history.  Television sets pull in hundreds of channels; professional sports teams and pop music groups take in (and spend) billions of dollars; million s of people own second and third homes for vacations; our children are upset if they don't get the latest computer games for Christmas.

I believe this frantic search for entertainment is a symptom of something deeper.  Some have suggested we are the most bored generation in history--and perhaps they are right.  Down inside is an empty place in our hearts--a restlessness, a search for inner peace and tranquility--that will not go away.  The irony is, the more we try to satisfy it, the less content we become.

     I know little about nuclear fission or uranium and other elements used in making nuclear explosives.  Yet I believe in the atomic bomb, and so do you.  But how can we believe that it exists, if we don’t understand it or have any scientific knowledge about the way it works?

     The answer is obvious.  Others understand nuclear fission even if we don’t, and other have seen what happens when a nuclear reaction takes place, even if we haven’t.  We read what they say, and we accept it as the evidence of reliable witnesses.

    I spend much of my time pursuing the pages of a book---the Bible.  In it I discover that centuries ago God acted and spoke, and reliable witnesses have written it down.  God even guided them as they wrote, so that now i read the very words of God Himself.

In the same way, Christians don't fail to live as they should because they are in the world; they fail because the world has gotten into them.  We don't fail to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit because we live in a sea of corruption; we fail because the sea of corruption has gotten into us.

    It can happen almost without our realizing it.  At one time we were dedicated to Christ, surrendered to the will of God.But little by little the chilling waters of the world crept in.  We became preoccupied with the things of this world rather than the things of Christ.

Only Christ can fill that empty space in our hearts, and He will as we open our lives to Him.  But God's Word also points us to the future--to Heaven, where our restless hearts will be at peace.  "There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. 

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best ways to overcome adversity


Suffering is the common lot of the human race.  We see pictures on television of people ravaged by war or famine, and our hearts are touched (as they should be).  But all around you are people who suffer in others ways: loneliness, fear, rejection, disability, grief, poverty, discrimination, addiction, or a multitude of problems.

But God has compassion on us--He suffers with us.  He knows what we are going through, and He cares.  The greatest act of compassion in the history of the human race was the Cross, for there Christ suffered for us. He endured sin's penalty so we would not have to endure it ourselves.

Now He calls us to have compassion on others, for His sake--suffer with them, and to point them to the One who suffered for them.  The Bible says, "Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble" (I Peter 3:8) - Billy Graham

“Neither death nor life,….nor things present not things to come,….shall be able to separate us from the love of God” – Romans 8:38-39

     There are two ways to respond to adversity; discouragement or trust.

     The problem with giving in to discouragement is that it only makes things worse, for with it may come bitterness, anger, jealousy, revenge, and so forth.  We may even try to escape through drugs or alcohol.  But do any of these solve the problem? No!

     God has a better way---the way of trust.  Sometimes He may show us that we were in the wrong.  When that is the case, we need to confess it, repent, and seek His forgiveness.  Sometimes, however, we can only accept what is happening and ask God to help us endure it and triumph over it.


     One of the best ways to overcome adversity, I've found, is to praise God right in the middle of the turmoil.  Turning to God’s Word will also encourage us, many of the Psalms, for example, were written in the midst of suffering and adversity.  Follow the Psalmist’s example. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2) – Billy Graham

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 marks the 13th anniversary of the horrific attacks on WTC



The year 2014 marks the 13th anniversary of the horrific attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists on the U.S. Memories of the day that saw thousands of deaths and injuries and loss of pivotal infrastructure will always remain engraved in the hearts of Americans. Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the saddest days in the history of the world. On Thursday, the world will remember the day that changed the life of millions. 
   
This date of September 11 will be engraved on the memories of people everywhere for generations to come.  On that terrible day when terrorists commandeered several passenger planes and killed thousands of innocent people in New York and Washington, we began to realize the true depths of evil in the human heart, and the uncertainty and fragility of life itself.

     What lessons would God teach us from such an appalling tragedy? I confess I don't know the full answer.  Many people, I know, for the first time faced the shallowness of their lives, and turned to God as a result.  Millions came together to pray. -Billy Graham

 You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001.

 Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Goodbye." I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK ... I am ready to go." I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!" I said. "Of course I will show you the way home - only believe on Me now."

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was with the Firefighters, the Police Officers, the Emergency Workers. I was there, watching each brave step they took.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

     But one lesson God would teach us all is this: Our only lasting hope is in Him.  Life has always been uncertain; September 11 only made it clearer.  Where will you turn for your security?  Put your life in Christ's hands, for only He offers us "a kingdom which cannot be shaken". - Billy Graham

He sent people trained in dealing with earthly disasters to save those that were injured. And he sent in thousands of others to help in any way they were needed. And He brought people together across the world in a way that moved thousands to tears and hundreds of thousands to prayer—and caused millions to turn to the one true living God.

He still isn't finished. Every day He comforts those who lost loved ones. He is encouraging others to reach out to those who don't know Him or believe in Him. He is giving the leaders of our great nation the strength and conviction to do the right thing, to follow His will, not a popular poll.

So if anyone ever asks, "Where was your God on 9/11?" you can say, "He was everywhere! And, in fact, he is everywhere today and every day." Without a doubt, this was the worst catastrophe most of us have ever seen. I can't imagine getting through such a difficult time without God at my side. Without God, life would be hopeless.


How did 9/11 change you? We asked our Facebook fans—but tell us your story in the comments below.
  • I pay more attention to the people around me when I am in a crowd. Jane Carder
  • We now avoid air travel because of the hassles involved. Terri DuVal Riffle
  • I honor military, police, firefighters, and other service people and try to remember to say thank you when I see them. Andrea Pandeloglou Smolin
  • I was 14 and could not wrap my mind around the tragedy. Years later, we went to see Flight 93 in theaters, and I finally cried. Stephani Blair
  • I had been to the Twin Towers in 1984, so I often think it could have been that day I was there. I moved closer to my family. Dorothy Elizabeth Pine Mets
  • My partner and I were on duty as paramedics. We watched a man pass out hundreds of U.S. flags to drivers on the street. I saw something I had never before seen personified: pride, love of country, solidarity, determination. Tears ran down my face. I knew America would not only survive but recover, overcome, and thrive. I’d always loved my country, but that day I fell in love. Tammy R. Musgrove
  • We don’t travel far from home anymore. Sheila Halet
  • I realized life can never be taken for granted. Nancy Shaftang, Sabah, Malaysia
  • It helped me meet my husband. Partly because of 9/11, he was inspired to join the Army. During his first deployment to Iraq in 2006, we met online. We married in 2007. Angela Metcalf, Tucson, Arizona
  • My wife and I joined the St. Peters, Missouri, Community Emergency Response Team to help both our neighbors and the brave men of the fire and police departments in case of a disaster. Arizona Scott Epstein, St. Peters, Missouri
  • My eyes were opened to the cruel, scary world that existed outside the safety of my small town that day. Being in only the sixth grade, I felt like a huge chunk of my innocence was taken by the terrorists. Miranda Reid, Ackerman, Mississippi
  • It was a reminder that we should not wait to say “I love you” to our loved ones. Pamela Madrid, Manila, Philippines
  • It opened my eyes to the fact that America is not invincible, which was a very scary feeling. Kate Nessler, Cincinnati, Ohio
  •  I found myself examining what freedom really means to me. I realized we are not one world, as much as we would like to be. Stephen Greg Legat
  •  I became more world-aware instead of self-aware. I’ve lost a lot of my self-entitlement. Annamarie Cardinal
  •  I have learned that Muslims in other countries were also horrified and grieved on 9/11. It is past time we understood that fact. Susan Diane Cain




Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Monday, September 29, 2014

Choosing to trust God



Choosing to trust God is so daily, isn't it?

When I only looked at the "what-ifs" of Tom’s job situation – the possible unemployment, the grueling process of job-hunting, the financial strain unemployment would bring, and the uncertainty of the economy – my faith and God-confidence shook and waned. Fear and doubt knocked on my heart, suitcases in hand, wanting to move in and take up residence.
On the other hand, when I fixed my eyes on God, looked at His character and at the ways He had brought us through hard times in the past, my faith was strengthened. Courage, confidence and joy knocked on my heart!

This reminds me of Chuck Swindoll’s  article’’ Fighting the Fast Fade’’ he says....  Jesus illustrated this struggle so vividly in Mark 4. Do you remember? The seed is carefully sown. Yet shortly after God's Word is heard, the enemy of our souls, Satan himself, comes and snatches away the biblical insights that have been deposited in our hearts.

Isn't it the truth? Before the freshly baked cake is cool, he comes and licks off all the frosting. Before the new bike is ridden, he sneaks up and lets all the air out of the tires. Before the dress is worn, he slips up and jerks out the hem and jams the zipper. Before we crank up the car at 12:20, he's stolen the stuff we heard at 11:45.

Amazing! But you gotta remember, he's been at it since he winked at Eve in the garden. He's the first when it comes to rip-off experts.

There are others who follow in his train. Like a basketball fan discovered at the Portland airport awaiting the arrival of the Trailblazers following a victory over the Lakers. He was attempting to scalp a couple of tickets to the next game—for a hundred and fifty bucks each. As he wormed through the crowd, he located a well-dressed man who listened to his offer.

"How much?" asked the gentleman.

"One hundred fifty," he replied under his breath. "Not a cent lower."

"Do you realize you're talking to a plain-clothes officer of the law?" the man asked the scalper. "I'm going to turn you in, fella."

Suddenly the seller began to backpedal. He talked about how large a family he had . . . how much they needed him . . . how he'd never ever do it again.

Looking both ways, the well-dressed man said: "Just hand over the tickets and we'll call it even  . . . now get out of here and I had better never catch you here again!"

But the worst was yet to come. The well-dressed man was no officer at all. Just a quick-thinking guy who used a little ingenuity to land two choice seats to the next playoff game. He anonymously admitted it in the local newspaper several days later.

Satan's strategy is just as ingenious and effective. He hears what we hear and in the process plans his approach. He baits the rip-off trap, then sets it up with just the right hair trigger. Here are several:
  • an immediate argument in the car after church is over on where to go for dinner.
  • lots of activity, talking, and needless noise Sunday afternoon.
  • preoccupation with some worrisome, plaguing problem during the message.
  • a personality conflict with another church member.
  • irritation over how far away you had to park.
  • pride—that says, "I'm so glad Doo Dad is here. He really needs to get straightened out."
All those (there are more) are satanic rip-offs. Like a lion, he prowls silently, camouflaged in the garb of our physical habits and our mental laziness, seeking to devour. At the precise moment when it will have its greatest impact, he snatches away the very truth we need the most, leaving us with hardly a memory of what God said earlier. It occurs every Lord's Day in every language on every continent . . . at every local church where the Scripture is declared.

So many people are like the walking dead. They exist and breathe but they aren’t really living. Some people spend their days angry, depressed, resentful, and bitter. They refuse to give life a chance; they refuse to be grateful, loving, or kind. Some folks simply waste their lives and resources on things that have no meaning or purpose at all. This is not living! This is not the kind of life that God wants for us. God wants us to choose hope, faith, obedience, and kindness. God wants us to embrace Him and those around us. How can we dare ask God to select us for the Book of Life, if we ourselves have not chosen life?

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A True Servant


Billy Graham once said: Our modern philosophy of self-reliance and self-sufficiency has caused many to believe that we can make the grade without God. “Religion,” they argue, “may be all right for certain emotional people, but you can’t beat a man who believes in himself.” But this self-confident generation has produced more alcoholics, more dope addicts, more criminals, more wars, more broken homes, more assaults, more embezzlements, more murders, and more suicides than any other generation that ever lived. It is time for all of us to take stock of our failures, blunders, and costly mistakes. It is about time that we are putting less confidence in ourselves and more trust and faith in God

Paul writes, 'Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?...If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ' (Galatians 1:10 NIV). A true servant of God is content to work quietly in the shadows. They know that in Heaven God will openly reward people we've never even heard of - people who taught emotionally disturbed children, cleaned up after the incontinent, nursed AIDS patients, and gave their lives in a thousand unnoticed ways. 'Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.'

During World War II, when England needed to increase its coal production, Winston Churchill called together labour leaders. He asked them to picture in their minds a victory parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war. First in line would be the sailors who kept the vital sea lanes open. After them would come the soldiers who returned from Dunkirk, then went on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Next would be the pilots who'd driven the Luftwaffe from the skies. Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miners' caps. Someone would shout from the crowd, 'And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?' And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, 'We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.'

Not all jobs are prominent and glamorous. But those who serve God with their 'faces to the coal' play a vital role in fulfilling His purposes in the earth. -Bob and Debbie Gass

But when such times come (and they come to us all). God still loves us. He does not abandon us. Remember: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27)


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Being Wanted



Billy Graham once said our modern philosophy of self-reliance and self-sufficiency has caused many to believe that we can make the grade without God. “Religion,” they argue, “may be all right for certain emotional people, but you can’t beat a man who believes in himself.” But this self-confident generation has produced more alcoholics, more dope addicts, more criminals, more wars, more broken homes, more assaults, more embezzlements, more murders, and more suicides than any other generation that ever lived. It is time for all of us to take stock of our failures, blunders, and costly mistakes. It is about time that we are putting less confidence in ourselves and more trust and faith in God

I wonder if you've ever thought about the incredible number of messages that rain down on us every day; television ads, e-mails, phone calls, magazines, junk mail. Videos, billboards, conversations—the list is almost endless.

     How many of those shape our thinking?  How many of them subtly convince us that the road to happiness is really paved with possessions, or beauty, or money, fame, or any of a hundred other things?  How many of them persuade us that the most important thing in life is financial success, or the esteem of others, or power, or sex?  It’s hard to resist the cumulative impact of so many messages.

     But God says our thinking must be shaped by His truth.  What this world calls valuable, God calls worthless.  What this world scorns, God exalts. “My thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” (Isaiah 55:8).
    
What would need to change for you to honour God with your life?

Sometimes our hearts are so foolish. Even though when we have been walking with God and tasting His blessing on our lives, still we so easily turn from Him and put ourselves first, honouring ourselves instead of Him. If you find yourself wandering away from God today, remember the blessing in your life when you were walking with Him. His nearness in your heart, a sense of peace and rightness about your life, His voice speaking to you through His word, Him working through you in the lives of others.

God allows us to do valiantly. Things we never thought possible become almost commonplace. God will enable us to do things we never even dreamed of. Rely upon the Lord, and He will help you conquer the enemies of your heart and mind that threaten to make you less than He wants you to be.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Choices We Make



In life, we have a choice. We can expose the weaknesses of others, or we can look away and help cover it up. Likewise, we can expose the goodness of others or look away and ignore it. All too often it seems that people uncover the bad and bury the good.

Strange though it may seem, these are often the people most difficult to love. Why? Because they feel unwanted, they are convinced that their lives are wasted, useless, and a bother. They wrestle with inferiority, thoughts of suicide, a twisted self-image, and a loss of self-respect. This results in all sorts of unattractive and unappealing responses. Because they entertain such a repulsive self-image, it is only natural that they act repulsively. This unpleasant lifestyle isolates them even more, of course, "confirming" their gutter-level opinion of themselves. What a sad, sad cycle!

Instead of loving these people, we usually label them.
Instead of caring, we criticize.
Instead of getting next to them, we react, we resent, we run.
Instead of "kissing the frog," we develop ways of poisoning it—or, at best, ignoring it completely.
Have you done any serious business with God lately?      
Got any problems?          
Are you dealing with any difficult people?          
Are you faced with any seemingly impossible situations?

We were all created for one another. There is not sense in trying to deny it. Those who attempt to stand on their own two feet find that they tire before long, and they wish they had someone to lean on. God created us equal, so that we can adequately fill one another's needs. He hopes we will share our lives with one anther and with Him. People who feel they are above needing others will be shown the error of their ways in due time. It is better to admit our need and wander this wilderness with companions who make the journey a lot more enjoyable.

But we all know that real life in the workaday world is often complicated, frustrating and unfulfilling. Work problems are real: stress, job dissatisfaction, unemployment, the question of fair wages, and other ethical concerns demand careful consideration that moves beyond the mandate of Genesis 1, but without losing sight of it.

In life, we have a choice. We can expose the weaknesses of others, or we can look away and help cover it up. Likewise, we can expose the goodness of others or look away and ignore it. All too often it seems that people uncover the bad and bury the good. But we have to act like Shem and Japheth and turn away from the bad parts of others, and then act like Isaiah, revealing the good in others.

Today, try to see the good in every person that you meet. You won’t just be looking at a more pleasant view; you’ll be looking at the truth.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We can never truly arrive anywhere



We all have a dream. For some people it might be finding the right mate and living happily in a nice house with a white picket fence. For another person it might be achieving a certain level of success in a career and getting that corner office in a high-rise building. But, whatever your dream, all our dreams have something in common — as we achieve one dream, another appears and we are on the move once again. This is because, as the saying goes, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” We can never truly arrive anywhere. We will be forever traveling, forever on the journey of life.

Money and prosperity not only have the ability to create conflict between family members and friends, they can also wreak havoc in the Christian community. In many ways, nothing has a greater ability to derail ministry work than a rich endowment.
Some Christian leaders may balk at this statement, but the truth is not hard to discern. Many of America's universities were founded on Christian principles and values, but have since abandoned their faith. When their endowments grew larger, their commitment and devotion to godly education grew smaller. They adjusted their ethics to reflect the views of their contributors.

Instead think of what you’re missing when you don’t put God first in your life! When you go your own way, you miss the very best part of life. In fact, walking with God is so much better than a worldly life that one day spent in fellowship with God is better than a thousand days out of fellowship with Him.

When we react to circumstances with bitterness and resentment as a result of unmet expectations, we are saying that we know better than God, and that God has made a mistake in not meeting our expectations. The process of resolving unmet expectations may require full disclosure to the individual who was the source of the unmet expectation, and of how the unmet expectation made you feel. This is not to make the person feel obligated to meet the expectation, but simply to share your feelings about it. If God was the source, then it is important to share this with the Lord. However, once we have done this we must let go of the situation and allow God to work in our hearts the grace that is needed to walk in freedom from the pain of the unmet expectation. If we do not do this, we will allow the seed of bitterness and resentment to enter in. This seed of bitterness will create leanness in our soul and eventually will spread to others.

There are many worries and fears in this life. So many things pull our focus onto the trials at hand. Some push our minds into the future, considering all the things that could go wrong. That's when we need to look back to the past, where God has shown his love and grace for us at the cross. Like the stones that Joshua laid on the other side of the river Jordan, the cross stands as a testimony for all time that God can deliver us from our greatest fear, the greatest evil, and the greatest obstacle of our life. Like Jeremiah and the Psalmist, when the cares of this life weigh us down, we need to look back and remember his grace. For it gives us confidence and assurance that he will sustain us in the present and carry us into the future.

Therefore,

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"  -  Philippians 2:5

     We Christians are not to be conformed to this world in the way we think.  The world by its advertisements, its conversation, and its philosophy is engaged in a gigantic brainwashing.  Not always consciously but sometimes unconsciously, the Christian is beset by secular and worldly propaganda, calling us to live for ourselves and to put things and selfish pleasure ahead of God.

 There is no place we can go where He does not see our every move. Those people who think they have God fooled are only fooling themselves. God sees all things, He hears all things, and nothing escapes His attention. For those who live in sin, that is a very frightening thought. For those who walk in righteousness, there is no problem. Let the Lord watch. It is good to know that He is here.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Monday, July 28, 2014

No Matter How Hopeless



I see people in pain, hurting, broken, and feeling as though they are without hope.  I’ve seen all of these things within just a few minutes of scrolling through the news feed of my Facebook page posted within the past 8 hours. I see broken people who need healing and restoration who are searching for real hope.

God can heal a heart no matter how paralyzed, no matter how dead.

And when I see the hopeless, and I feel I have nothing to bring relief, Do I believe that they can find comfort and peace and maybe even purpose again? I do. Isn’t that why I believe in a Savior? It’s the sick, it’s the hopeless that need one. It’s all of humanity really.

It’s the worst thing watching someone you love in pain. But it’s this feeling that drives me to fight for their life. Because it makes me hurt a little less when I can bring a smile to their face. And I’m not the savior of the world but I can be a part in the healing process. I can be the hands and feet.

As a Christian I know the only place that they will find true, everlasting hope is in Jesus Christ.  He is our hope (1 Peter 1:3, 1 Timothy 1:1, Psalm 39:7, Titus 2:13). I believe that we are to point others to the only true and living hope and we have an opportunity to do that in a digital age that can reach more people than we could ever imagine through the use of social media.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” – Nehemiah 8:10

     Some people have a warped idea of living the Christian life.  Seeing talented, successful Christian, they attempt to imitate them.  For them, the grass on the other side of the fence is always greener.  But when they discover that their own gifts are different or their contributions are more modest (or even invisible), they collapse in discouragement and overlook genuine opportunities that are open to them.  They have forgotten that they are here to serve Christ, not themselves.

     Be like the apostle Paul and say, “None of these things move me.”  Few men suffered as Paul did, yet he learned how to live above his circumstances—even in a prison cell.  You can do the same.  The key is to realize you are here to serve Christ, not yourself.

     God does not promise us an easy life, free of troubles, trials, difficulties, and temptations.  He never promises that life will be perfect. He does not call His children to a playground, but to a battleground.  In the midst of it all when we serve Christ, we truly discover that “joy of the Lord is (our) strength.” – Billy Graham

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, July 25, 2014

Change



We all have a dream. For some people it might be finding the right mate and living happily in a nice house with a white picket fence. For another person it might be achieving a certain level of success in a career and getting that corner office in a high-rise building. But, whatever your dream, all our dreams have something in common — as we achieve one dream, another appears and we are on the move once again. This is because, as the saying goes, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” We can never truly arrive anywhere. We will be forever traveling, forever on the journey of life.

I was reading an interesting article - “Is Change Really a Problem?” By Dr.Jack Graham. He rightly says:

Not only that, but look at the number of options we have today. When I was growing up, we had two channels we could watch on television. Today, we can turn to hundreds of channels without finding a single thing worth watching!

One thing I’ve noticed over the past 40 years is just how much life is changing. Here’s what I mean: On the highway, the speed limit used to be a standard 55 miles per hour. Today, you’ll find places with limits of 80 miles per hour or more.

Our society has developed a habit of pushing the limits. Now, in some ways, that’s beneficial. But in many other ways, it’s become a detriment. It seems like every month now we hear about this or that person who pushed the envelope a little too far. Then there’s a backlash from some, and the whole incident is forgotten until someone tries to go further next time.

Change itself isn’t bad. But all change can really be placed in two categories: progress or decay. Change is either for the better or for the worse. So in our ever-changing society, strive for and support the changes that are beneficial. Make things better by being a cultural catalyst for the things of our never-changing God!

In the book Experiencing God, authors Henry Blackaby and Claude King say that one of seven important steps to experiencing God in everyday life is how God speaks to us. "God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways." [Henry Blackaby and Claude King, Experiencing God (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, 1990), 225]

You can examine the life of every major character in the Bible and see this principle expressed in the way God worked in each of their lives.
One of the ways God speaks is through others. God often used others to speak to individuals, especially in the Old Testament when God often spoke through the prophets. This is still one of the ways He speaks today.

You must believe what God says about you, over what everyone else says! Stop listening to those who claim you'll never amount to anything. You might've had a bad childhood, or a failed marriage or career. '...Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before [you]' (Philippians 3:13 KJV). The Bible doesn't say that we call those things which are not as though they are. Nor does it say others have the power to speak things which are not as though they are over your life. No, it is God, through His Word, Who speaks into existence His will for your life. And you should be glad about that. You wouldn't want anybody else to have power to determine your destiny.

"For He knoweth our frame...." - Psalm 102:14

It is significant that our first astronauts, while being trained for their moon flights, were required to give twenty answers to the query, “Who are you?” Take the same test yourself. When you have made your list and run out of things to add, ask yourself if you have truly answered. Do you really know who you are? Scientists agree that our desperate search leads all humans to seek heroes and to imitate others, to “paste bits and pieces of other people on ourselves.” We make love as some actor would. We play golf in the style of Jack Nicklaus. Part of this process is natural, for we learn by imitating others. The tragedy is that the person we assemble is not genuine. “Who am I?” you cry as you roam the world looking for yourself. Consider this: there are three of you. There is the person you think you are. There is the person others think you are. There is the person God knows you are and can be through Christ.- Billy Graham

Many times in our lives, the very things we fear are acts of God Himself. These are things that perhaps God has brought into our lives so that we can run to Him… to find our strength in Him, relish His love, and experience His awesome grace.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Life is filled with Highs and Lows



Life in general is filled with highs and lows, but it can especially be apparent for those in Christian ministry leadership positions. Just look at how many pastors, youth ministers, and worship directors eventually leave ministry. The work wears on a person. The constant complaints of doing too little of this or too much of that can drain anyone. As a leader, you are expected to be there for everyone at every moment of the day. No one is able to be there at all times. Still, guilt fills the mind and causes you to doubt your ministry and your effectiveness.

Malachi preached after Haggai, Zechariah, and Nehemiah—about 430 B.C. The Temple had been rebuilt for almost a century, and the people were losing their enthusiasm for worship. Apathy and disillusionment had set in because the exciting messianic prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah had not been fulfilled. Many of the sins that had brought the downfall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. were still being practiced in Judah. This complacency gradually led to blatant sin, such as marriage to those who worshiped idols. Ezra and Nehemiah also had confronted this problem years earlier (Ezra 9–10; Nehemiah 13:23-31). Divorce was common, occurring for no reason other than a desire for change. People acted as if they could do anything without being punished. And they wondered why God refused to accept their offerings and bless them (Malachi 2:13)!

God has made provision for the Christian to fulfill the requirements of the Law through the Holy Spirit’s power. “In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). What could never be accomplished in the power of the flesh—the meeting of the righteous standards of the Law—can be achieved in the power of the Spirit.

My friend in Christ, Whitt Madden, from Treasuring Christ says: Sometimes I have to break down scriptures in order to see it laid out for myself.   The law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  Basically God did what the law could not do, by sending Jesus to die for our sins, so that the requirement of the law might be completed in us.

This changes everything for us.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)

Let’s understand this today:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  (Romans 8:9-10)

The flesh cannot please God for several reasons.

(1) First of all, the flesh is hostile toward God. “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7).

(2) The flesh is incapable of producing righteousness. That is surely the conclusion we must draw from Romans Chapter 7.

(3) The flesh can only produce death: “For the mind set on the flesh is death …” (Romans 8:6).
The Spirit is the source of liberty and of life: “However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9)

Paul says to the Christian,

“If you are a true Christian, then the Holy Spirit indwells you.”

The Holy Spirit that indwells us is a life-giving spirit.  Do you believe this?  He has power over death.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, if you are saved.  This is truth. If you have the same Spirit living in you that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, don’t you agree that this Spirit should have power over sexual sin as well?

When things get tight, the problems don't seem to go away, and we struggle with guilt--the false guilt of not being able to be there for everyone--God will comfort us. He shields us even during the assaults of bitter people and harsh words. He will always lead us in a path meant to protect us and keep us strong.

When the road is dark and tough, God will guide and protect you. When you feel overwhelmed with loneliness, the Lord is close beside you. When your heart is asking hard questions and you feel beaten down, God will sustain you. We don't need to live in fear, for God is always with you. He is willing to comfort and protect you. He guides you through every mountain and valley of life. He is your true Shepherd. And the more you trust him as Lord, the more you will experience the wonder of having a Shepherd.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Law of Karma


There is a lot of misunderstanding around this word. Karma simply means action. Every action has consequences. Conscious choice making is the most effective way of creating future consequences of karma. Karma creates the future, but it is also an echo from the past. Karma conditions our soul through memory, desire and imagination. Most people are prisoners of Karma, because it becomes a conditioned reflex and produces predictable outcomes in their lives. The goal of enlightenment is to break the in shackles of Karma.

Every person is responsible for his or her acts and thoughts, so each person's karma is entirely his or her own. Occidentals see the operation of karma as fatalistic. But that is far from true since it is in the hands of an individual to shape his own future by schooling his present.
Hindu philosophy, which believes in life after death, holds the doctrine that if the karma of an individual is good enough, the next birth will be rewarding, and if not, the person may actually devolve and degenerate into a lower life form. In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma or what is right.

First things first,

Recently, I came across an interesting article, titled "Christianized Karma" by Katherine Britton:

“…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…”– 1 Peter 3:15

Christians give really good hugs during trials and tragedy. As my own family has experienced recently, the body of Christ has long arms to embrace those in need, easing the burdens of bad times. The church at work offers silent – and strong – evidence of grace when we pick each other up off the ground.

Now, imagine for a moment that your community didn’t provide any support during a trial. Imagine that instead of offering encouraging words and providing meals or other support after a tragedy, the whole community pulled away. Imagine if they acted like you were a disease they didn’t want to catch while you shouldered the burden alone. And not only that -- they believed that your problems were your own fault, pure and simple.

That’s karma at work. And it’s a lonely road.

A missionary couple recently visited our church before heading to London, where they planned settle in an immigrant community that’s mostly Hindu. The wife expressed her desire to see people set free from the bonds of karma. That caught my interest. I’d slipped into viewing karma through an Americanized lens, as a pseudo-Christian philosophy of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7). Faithfulness and selfishness often have their rewards in this life, after all, and good deeds are often repaid with a smile and expression of gratitude if nothing else. Karma may not be the full picture, but it seemed like an innocuous truism to me.

The missionary went on to describe the ugly side of karma, in which the community pulls away from its members who are suffering. Lose a job? It’s a karmic effect – you must have cheated your employer or at least talked badly about him. Did you – heaven forbid – lose a child? Somehow, that’s your fault too, as the universe balances out some evil you’ve done. If such horrible things are somehow your fault, it would also make sense for people to pull away. That’s the bond of karma.

Christians rely on the promise that “all things work for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28). We fight to believe that, while “no discipline seems pleasant at the time… later on it produces a harvest of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Like Job, we may never know the reason for our earthly suffering. But we know that, because of grace, suffering is not a quid-pro-quo retaliation for our sins. Even our suffering has been redeemed by God’s grace through Christ’s supreme act of love. (1)

Senior pastor William Graham Tullian Tchividjian says, Westerners are understandably reticent to embrace the notion that the universe is paying us back for a prior life of boozing, spousal abuse, or tax evasion. We believe in the inherent goodness of human beings, after all! We prefer to keep the cycle within the confines of a single life. But the appeal of this perspective should be fairly obvious: no one gets away with anything. If someone harmed you, she will suffer. If you do good, you will have a good life. Karma puts us in control. The problem in this worldview comes, as it always does, when we flip it around. If you are suffering, you have done something to merit it. Pain is proof.

No doubt many of us would object to the accusation that we share or agree with such a mind-set. That's simplistic nonsense, we might think. No one with any education or experience would ever hold to such a juvenile relational bartering system. But hold on for a moment. Think about the last fight you had with your significant other-was there an element of deserving tucked into the conflict? "You hurt me, so now I'll hurt you"? I can't tell you how much self-abuse I've come across in my years of ministry that had some element of inward-directed retribution at its core: the teenage girl who punishes herself by cutting her arms; or men who sleep around to prove that they deserve the contempt of their wives. If we cling to quid pro quo when dealing with others and ourselves, why wouldn't we project it onto God (or the universe)? We are all helpless moralizers, especially when it comes to suffering.

On the opposite end of our natural tendency to moralize life and suffering stands the counter-intuitive affirmation of Christianity. Christianity affirms that Jesus severed the link between suffering and deserving once for all on Calvary. God put the ledgers away and settled the accounts. The good news of the gospel is NOT that good people get good stuff. It's not that life is cyclical and that "what comes around goes around." Rather, it's that the bad get the best, the worst inherit the wealth, and the slave becomes a son (Rom.5:8).

Because the truth is, that it's just misery to try to keep count of what God is no longer counting. Your entries keep disappearing. (2)


References:

 (1) Christianized Karma - Crosswalk the Devotional - April 4, 2014

 (2) You Believe in Karma, BY TULLIAN TCHIVIDJIAN, CHRISTIAN POST COLUMNIST. http://www.christianpost.com/news/you-believe-in-karma-79037/

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju